Carole Lombard

The Profane Angel

Hi, I'm Kat!
What I am most passionate about is to inspire you to see that your life is your own and biggest masterpiece.

Carole Lombard was the wife of Hollywood heartthrobs William Powell and Clark Gable, one of the most beautiful Hollywood blondes, and the first war-related casualty of WW II in the US. 



Carole Lombard was actually born Jane Alice Peters on October 6, 1908 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Her parents come from wealthy backgrounds, so Jane and her two older brothers, with whom she was rather close, had a comfortable childhood. His biographer called this time, her „silver spoon period“. The parents though separated, when Jane was six years old and the mother moved with her three kids to Los Angeles – without the husband and father. They never got divorced, but stayed separated for the remainder of their lives. As the father still supported the family, they lived comfortably in an apartment near Venice Boulevard. 

It was at Virgil Junior High School that Carole Lombard got discovered at age 12 by director Allan Dwan who needed a tomboy for his latest picture „The Perfect Crime“. Although that movie was no breakthrough success for her, Jane got a taste of an actress’s life and went to further auditions, which were quite unsuccessful. But, at the age of 15, she was approached by an employee of Charlie Chaplin to screen test for The Gold Rush. Jane did not get the role, but her screen-test got the attention of the Vitagraph Film Company which was interested in signing her, but required her to change her name. So, Jane adopted the name „Carole“ after a girl from her high school. The deal with Vitagraph fell through though. Soon after, in 1924, then 16-year old Carole signed with the Fox Film Corporates. They then disliked her surname and changed it to Lombard – thus, Carole Lombard, the star, was born. 

Hollywood star rising

Her first roles for Fox though were no star material – they were bit parts with Lombarde being the pretty blonde accessory to the heroes. Nevertheless, she embraced the lifestyle as an actress, loved photoshoots and wardrobe fittings, socialized with other actors and was a regular at the Cocoanut Grove, the nightclub in The Ambassador Hotel. 

Her first leading role was in 1925 in „Marriage in Transit“ – apparently, the heads of Fox were not convinced that Lombard was leading lady material and did not renew her contract. 

So, although Carole Lombard was initially hesitant to do slapstick comedies, she signed on to become one of the Sennett Bathing Beauties and was in 18 short comedy movies between 1927 and 1929. She would later recall these years as „the turning point of (her) acting career“, because this is were she learned the fundamentals of comedy – her strong genre. Sennett’s movie were distributed by Pathé and the company cast Lombard for feature films in 1928 and 1929. The reviews were favorable and Film Daily wrote about her performance in The Racketeer: “Carol Lombard proves a real surprise, and does her best work to date. In fact, this is the first opportunity she has had to prove that she has the stuff to go over.“

Lombard’s scar

When she was 19 and a successful Sennet girl, Carole Lombard had a car accident, that left her with a visible scar for the rest of her life. She had been in the car with her date, a man named Harry Cooper, who suddenly hit a car on Santa Monica Boulevard. The windshield broke and glass cut L“ombard’s face from her nose and across her left cheek to her eye“. She had to undergo reconstructive surgery and had to recover for quite some time. She and her mother sued Harry Cooper, claiming that Lombard would not be able to earn money anymore as an actress and settled out of court. Although Lombard had believed her career to be over, Mack Sennett helped her recover, providing movie roles and publicity. It was also Sennett you came up with the nickname „Carole of the Curves“. This was actually a stroke of genius – the attention was drawn away from Lombard’s face and focused on her well-formed physique and her elegant sensuality. 

Lombard learned to hide the scar with make-up and also with the help of the right lighting. 

Paramount success

Next, Paramount signed the rising star with a contract earning her $350 initially with an increase to $3,500 per week by 1936. They put her in comedies where she showed that she was an accomplished comedienne like Buddy Rogers’ „Safety in Numbers“, „Fast and Loose“ opposite Miriam Hopkins or „It Pays to Advertise“. She also appeared in a series of dramas like „Man of the World“ and „Ladies Man“ opposite her later husband William Powell who she met on set of these. Throughout the years 1931 to 1933, she would play different characters, even a horror movie as well as melodramas. 

But, it was only in 1934 that Carole Lombard would rise to Hollywood stardom. First, there was Bolero opposite George Raft, which showcased Lombard’s extraordinary dancing skills. The movie became a smashing hit as did We’re Not Dressing opposite Bing Crosby. Interestingly: Lombard had been offered Claudette Colbert’s part in It Happened One NIght opposite Clark Gable but had to turn it down because of scheduling conflicts with Bolero. Then, Howard Hawks cast Carole Lombard for his screwball comedy Twentieth Century – he had seen her drunk, outspoken and fun at one Hollywood party and thought that this was just what the part needed. On the set, though, Lombard was too stiff and calculated for his taste and he advised her to loosen up. She did  – and earned stellar reviews like „she vibrates with life and passion, abandon and diablerie.“ She would repeat her screwball success opposite Fred MacMurray in „Hands Across the Table“, which is thought of as one of her best movies. The pairing with Fred MacMurray was so successful that they were paired three more times together. 

Queen of Screwball Comedies

In 1936, Lombard cemented her image as the queen of screwball comedies, starring in Love Before Breakfast, The Princess Comes Across and My Man Godfrey. Especially the latter was a huge hit – both with audiences as well as with critics and received six nominations at the Academy Awards, including Best Actress for Lombard. It established her as one of the best and most talented comediennes of Hollywood as well as one of the most popular actresses. This was also mirrored in her pay – she became the highest-paid star in Hollywood thanks to the help of Myron Selznick, the man who also helped Vivien Leigh to her role in Gone With the Wind. He negotiated a $450,000 dollar deal with Paramount, which would be equivalent to about $9.5m today. Her extraordinary success in screwball comedies continued with Nothing Sacred, which was written especially for Lombard and was also her only movie in technicolor, as well as True Confessions. This movie ended her career at Paramount and Lombard would not renew her contract, but worked as an independent performer for the rest of her career. 

Final roles & death

Carole Lombard decided to move away from comedies and back to more dramatic roles in 1939, but the movies proved to be only moderately successful. She is quoted „my name doesn’t sell tickets to serious pictures“ and thus returned to comedies in 1941with the movie Mr. & Mrs. Smith, a screwball comedy directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Her next and last movie was the Ernst Lubitsch movie „To Be or Not Be“, a dark comedy. 

Shortly after wrapping the movie, Carole Lombard would start working for the war effort and sold war bonds. She was one of the most successful ones doing so. It was in the morning of January 16, 1942 that Lombard, her mother and Clark Gable’s press agent, Otto wInkler boarded a plane Indiana to fly back to California. After refueling in Las Vegas, the plane crashed against the Potosi Mountain and killed all 22 passengers. It was ruled a pilot error – safety beacons had been turned off due to the possibility of enemy Japanese bomber aircrafts entering American airspace. 


William Powell – Carole Lombard and William Powell met at the set of Man of the World in 1931, a movie in which they both starred. Lombard had been a fan of Powell long before they met and it wasn’t long before they started a relationship. In essence, they were opposites – Lombard was 22 years old, carefree and foulmouthed, whereas Powell was 16 years her senior at 38, very intellectual and sophisticated. Nevertheless, they go married and became one of the star couples of Hollywood, raising Carole Lombard’s profile even more. Initially, Lombard praised their marriage, that it was a „perfect see-saw love“ with their opposites complementing each other. But, in 1936,  after only 26 months of marriage, they finally divorced with Lombard admitting: „We were just two completely incompatible people.“ Yet, they stayed close friends until Lombard’s death. 

Russ Columbo – Carole Lombard was romantically linked to singer Russ Columbo, who was killed in a tragic accident in 1934 by his friend, photographer Lansing Brown. They had been in a relationship for several months with Lombard guiding Columbo’s movie and radio career. Apparently, they were engaged and Screenland Magazine called their romance „one of Hollywood’s most charming“. 

Clark Gable – Carole Lombard and Clark Gable co-starred in the 1932 comedy-drama „No Man of Her Own“. But, apparently, although they were shooting a lot of love scenes, there was no romantic interest between them. They began a romance in 1936 and married right after Gable’s divorce from his second wife Maria. They bought director Raoul Walsh’s ranch in Encino, California, kept barnyard animals and enjoyed their homely life, calling each other „Ma“ and „Pa“. Naturally, Lombard wanted to start a family right away, but that was not in the cards. She miscarried twice and went to several fertility specialists, but was never able to have children. 

Business & Feminism

Lombard was quite progressive, playing independent, free-spirited women. This was of course underlined by the studio’s PR efforts. Magazines published articles in which she talked about how to live by Man’s Code and she was described as the „perfect example of a modern Career Girl“. But, these articles and interviews were never done by Carole, but always by the publicity department really. As a movie historian explains: they were published “to elicit a specific response from the fan magazine readers—namely, to view Lombard’s independent star as indistinguishable from the Lombard heroines they saw on screen.“

Her Independent star persona for which she is widely regarded only really emerged, when her contract with Paramount was finished and she worked as an independent perfumer. This gave her much autonomy about the roles she played and the persona she wanted to portray. But, the most important legacy of Carole Lombard is probably her business acumen. In 1938, Lombard was apparently the first Hollywood star to negotiate a new deal of salary – she would take a reduced fee for a 20% cut of the distributor’s gross in exchange. James Stewart, who I credited earlier with this kind of strategy did this only in the 1950s. So, there is a good chance that Lombard indeed was the first one to do this. Her contract also stipulated that she could not get loaned out to other studios, that she had to right to employ Travis Banton as her costume designer and that she had all legal rights to her image. 

In all, Lombard had great business sense and new how to use her momentum to gain control of her career and finances, but on the other hand she was fun and easy-going, who was liked by basically everybody she worked with – from co-stars to technicians because she was so pure. That really was what cemented her as an independent star. 


As we all know style is the whole package – clothes, temperament, confidence, posture, speech, spirits. And Carole Lombard really had all of it – she was famously nicknamed „The Profane Angel“. 

On-screen or off she talked fast with lots of gestures and sounds, laughter and quite some swear words. In addition to this she had naturally blonde hair, a beautiful heart-shaped face and delicate features. Her scar definitely did not take away from this

Her body was lean and toned from her active lifestyle and was best presented in bias-cut slinky gowns as they were fashionable in the 1930s. Travis Banton was the one she trusted the most – never wanted to see any sketch. Banton on the other side loved her just as much and attributed to her „clothes quality“ – the gift to get into any gown and turn it into something divinely chic, not matter whether it’s a plain gingham dress or some lame and fur ensemble. 

And to close this package with a nice little bow – on top of all that Carole Lombard was just insanely nice and pure. Husband Clark Gable once said about her: „You can trust that little screwball with your life or your hopes or your weaknesses, and she wouldn’t even know how to think about letting you down.“

All in all, Carole Lombard had heaps of style and personality, confidence and zest for life and living, which made her one-of-a-kind.


In early 1938, Carole Lombard joined the Baháʼí Faith, which her mother had been a member of

Already cast before her death, Carole Lombard was replaced by Joan Crawford in the movie They All Kissed the Bride. Crawford donated all of her salary for the film to the Red Cross, which had helped extensively in the recovery of bodies from the air crash

In December 1943, a Liberty ship was named in her honor and would be involved in rescuing hundreds of survivors from sunken ships in the Pacific. 

With all my love!




In the Shop

Joan Crawford Giclee Print
Jane Russell Giclee Print
Breakfast at Tiffanys Giclee Print